Chez Buce has achieved a milestone of sorts: we have now completed the read-aloud of 100 books. Number 100 was Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, which we picked up more or less on impulse after reading an endorsement from D.G. Myers (we'd read Housekeeping a couple of years ago).
We can't remember when exactly we started this project; must have been about 15 years ago. Only a few years in did we go back and start keeping a record; we were working from memory, so we may have missed something.
In the early years, we'd get hold of two copies and one would read aloud while the other followed along. But over the years, Mrs. B has taken up a fairly ambitious program of stretching exercises, so more and more it has been me reading while she stretches. No complaints here: I'm enchanted by the sound of my own voice, and even though we collaborate quite amiably on selections, I do as the actual reader get the last word.
The list is necessarily somewhat arbitrary. We diligently exclude stuff we started but didn't finish, like Bede's History, or the Niebelunglied (we made an exception for Proust, and a couple of Asian epics: they sneak in under the label of "selections"). Not quite cheating, we include Plato's Timaeus as a "book;" also Aristotle's Frogs. Among what's left, there are lots of multiples. We did all six Jane Austens; five each of Balzac and Evelyn Waugh; four each of Faulkner and Henry James; three each of Tolstoy, Dostoevski and Ivy Compton-Burnett. For balance, we tossed in Christopher Buckley's Thank You For Smoking.
Needless to say, I endorse this kind of program, although I must admit it takes a steady, systematic hunk of time that is thereby unavailable for anything else. I should think it would work for anybody, but does have a special virtue in our case. Under ordinary terms, we lead somewhat separate lives and the books give us a common fund of conversation (or is it gossip?).
Of course we do not intend to stop now. From Gilead, we've moved on the Marilynne Robinson's Home--first time that we've ever read the same author twice in a row, and another threefer. Anyway, here's a Google docof the list.